Editorial: In control, few questions asked

Apr. 02, 2013 @ 03:49 PM

Summer is coming, and so is more rhetoric on the Affordable Care Act, an issue sharply dividing our country.

A recent photo opportunity included a seven-foot stack of regulations and a Kentucky Senate Republican. He was against it, by the way.

Ever one to be savvy in technology since his campaign rewrote how to campaign in 2008, President Barack Obama is drawing another card from the 21st century deck. Or is it two?

What the administration is about to do with the health care law is similar to what the White House has been steadily doing since Obama stepped into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — control the message.

That’s not a new tool, but the new strategy employed is quite bold.

Coming in the lead-up to an Oct. 1 sign-up date for middle-class Americans is demographic-targeted messages to explain the law. The administration needs sign-ups to prove victorious.

They researched and found three distinct groups in the 48 million uninsured. Healthy and young account for 48 percent; sick, active and worried are another 29 percent; and passive and unengaged are 15 percent. Respectively, they translate into taking good health for granted, tech-savvy people with low motivation to enroll; seekers of information on health care with worries about costs; and those who live for today with little understanding of health insurance.

In contrast to that “get the message out” and show “what’s inside what was passed,” the White House is shrinking the window of accessibility to Obama. Putting him on a live stream for anyone with electricity and a computer gives one thing — one view, the one the White House wants. Obama doesn’t like to be questioned, so he’s had far fewer mass question-and-answer sessions and far more hand-picked, one-on-one interviews. This helps choose timing, format and gives him a better chance to control the message, much like Manti T’eo and Lance Armstrong. It’s smart for what Obama wants.

But it doesn’t keep fire to his feet, alternative points of view are squelched, and accuracy is difficult to question sans party-colored cable news networks’ talking heads.

There’s a good chance we’ll hear plenty on health care from the White House in the coming months. Most will be exactly what was intended.